Category Archives: Atheism

A Conversation With “The Closet Atheist”

Thank you to The Closet Atheist for her questions.

And thank you to The Closet Atheist for answering my questions. You can find her answers here.

The reason for this post is: I was feeling bored and curious one day so, wanting to make the best use of my time, I decided to reach out to The Closet Atheist in order to better understand where she’s coming from, and she did the same.

Below are my answers to the questions she asked me.

1. Why are you Catholic and not another denomination?

I was raised a Catholic.

Going to church, praying alone in my room, following the 10 Commandments — these actions, and the mindset that came with them, were as natural to me as wearing clothes, bathing, or brushing my teeth. They were something I did for the sake of my well-being, and because to not do them just felt wrong.

Now, as an adult out in the world, separated from the Catholic cocoon I grew up in, my faith remains an integral part of my life, influencing my thoughts and choices.

Image result for life is strange choices

More about my faith in questions #2 and #4.

The reason I am not another denomination is:

I haven’t seen compelling evidence to show that another denomination, not the Catholic Church, is the “correct” expression of Jesus’ teachings.

For example: The Protestant Reformation lasted from 1517 — 1648. (Thanks, Google.) So, going by Jesus’ words to Peter — Matthew 16:18 — that means that, if any one of those Protestant churches established in the wake of the Reformation is the “true” Church, than Jesus waited 16 centuries to establish his church. And I just don’t see the reasoning in that. When Jesus says “On this rock I will build my church,” does that not imply that Jesus is building his church on this rock right then, not more than 1,500 years later?

Through apostolic succession, the Catholic Church can trace its origin back to Peter.* Which is something that Protestant churches, established more than 1,500 years after Peter’s time, can’t do.

2. Why do people sometimes say that Catholicism is a separate religion from Christianity rather than just a denomination within it?

I have not heard that before — that Catholicism is its own separate, non-Christian religion.

Regarding why people would say such a thing: I don’t know.

Skimming The Catechism of the Catholic Church, it’s clear that a foundation of the Catholic Church is the teachings found in the Bible. So this claim of Catholicism being “a separate religion from Christianity,” as far as I can tell, has no legs to stand on.

When it comes to Catholicism’s relationship to Christian denominations such as Lutheranism, Calvinism, Presbyterianism, etc., here is how I see it:

Picture a tree. Picture the trunk and the branches going up and up and up. The Catholic Church is the trunk, and the denominations (like Lutheranism and Presbyterianism) are the branches. Being offshoots, they wouldn’t exist without the trunk.**

3. If there was one thing you wish that Christians today would or wouldn’t do, or something you wish they understood about Christianity and what it means to be a Christian, what would it be?

I wish that Christians today wouldn’t conflate faith with politics.

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I’ve been called a communist because I said that if I had to choose between saving one person from Hell or saving America, I would choose to save that one person. After all: Countries don’t last forever, but the soul does.

Jesus said “Go and make disciples of all nations,” not “Go and win an election.” (Matthew 28:19)

4. If you had a teenage or young adult child that told you that he or she is not a Christian, how would you respond to them?

I would be proud of them.

Why?

Because: Such an act would show that they were using their brains, not just accepting what they were taught because it’s what was expected of them.

The Bible encourages one to use their brain:

“Test everything. Hold fast to what is good.”
~1 Thessalonians 5:21

“…be as shrewd as serpents…”
~Matthew 10:16

I would be glad that this young person is testing everything and being as shrewd as a serpent. The fact that, as a result, this person is now an atheist, would not bother me.

What would bother me is if this person, as a result of becoming an atheist, did not keep an open mind — if this person refused to hear or consider reasons to believe in a god. And I would be just as bothered by someone who did believe in a god refusing to ever consider the possibility that there isn’t one.

Why?

Faith.

Faith, by its nature, requires uncertainty, however small.

That’s why the Bible — Hebrews 11:1 — says that faith is “…the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”*** (Emphasis mine.)

The fact of the matter is: Regardless of how strongly I believe there is a god, and regardless of what I see as evidence for the existence of a god, until I die and either enter the void or stand in front of the pearly gates, I won’t know, with certainty, if a god exists.

UPDATE:

I realize that these words don’t answer your question: If you had a teenage or young adult child that told you that he or she is not a Christian, how would you respond to them?

This is how I would respond:

I wouldn’t mind that they weren’t a Christian.

Not everyone is, and not everyone will be.

Would I want this person to become a Christian? Yes.

But: I have to accept the reality that, for one reason or another, that might not happen.

So instead of beating them over the head with a Bible, I would tell them: “Keep on seeking goodness, truth, and beauty in all things, and one day you will find where that goodness, truth, and beauty comes from.”

5. How do you deal with doubt in terms of God’s existence?

If there is one thing that could cause me to not believe in a God, it is the violence I see in the world nowadays.

Which is one reason why I don’t like watching or reading the news. Knowing that there is nothing I can do to, for example, stop a terrorist attack in Britain, causes me to feel depressed and consider notions that I otherwise wouldn’t. Like committing suicide.

But, like a boomerang returning to the person who threw it, I always find myself returning to my belief in a higher power.

The reason why is: As horrible as the universe is, it’s also beautiful.

Two examples of beauty:

The Incorrupt

There are people who, even after being dead for years, have not decomposed.

For example: Mary of Jesus de León y Delgado, O.P., who died in 1731:

Juan Diego’s tilma

A garment bearing an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary was undamaged after a bomb went off next to it.

Virgen de guadalupe1.jpg

In conclusion:

Thank you for your questions, The Closet Atheist. I hope you were satisfied by my answers. And if you were dissatisfied with anything I said, let me know.

I hope the day will soon come where you can leave the closet.

*Apostolic succession: (in Christian thought) the uninterrupted transmission of spiritual authority from the Apostles through successive popes and bishops, taught by the Roman Catholic Church but denied by most Protestants. (Thanks, Google.)

**The Reformation (from Latin reformatio, literally “restoration, renewal”), also referred to as the Protestant Reformation and the European Reformation, was a schism from the Roman Catholic Church initiated by Martin Luther, and continued by John Calvin, Huldrych Zwingli, and other early Protestant Reformers in 16th century Europe.
~Wikipedia

***Conviction: a firmly held belief or opinion.

Why I Believe In God

Note: This post is a continuation of Why I Believe In God, And Why Atheists’ Lives Aren’t MeaninglessI’m Doing Better, and My Current Thoughts On Life

Look at this image:

Image result for the uncanny valley

There’s something off about it, isn’t there?

That’s the uncanny valley at work:

In aesthetics, the uncanny valley is the hypothesis that human replicas which appear almost, but not exactly, like real human beings elicit feelings of eeriness and revulsion among some observers. (Thank you, Google.)

When it comes to my belief in a higher power, I find myself driven by similar feelings.

What I mean is: I look at the world around me, and I can’t help but feel that there is something off.

Like that feeling of eeriness and revulsion that you can’t quite put your finger on when you look at a robot face…

Image result for the uncanny valley

…I can’t help but feel that there is more to existence than what I can understand with my mind and perceive with my five senses.

And that more I call “God.”

Lately, I’ve found that Syd Matter’s “Obstacles” does a good job of conveying that elusive feeling I have (hence why it’s my favorite song):

To me, it’s a song that conveys that 1) all is not as it should be…

Let’s say sunshine for everyone
But as far as I can remember
We’ve been migratory animals
Living under changing weather

…and 2) one day, all will be as it should once again:

Someday we will foresee obstacles
Through the blizzard, through the blizzard

And, that’s how I see life:

Our world is not as it should be, and it is my duty to do something about that: It is my duty to learn to “foresee obstacles through the blizzard,” and do what I can to help others to do the same.

Thank you for reading.

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My Current Thoughts On Life

Below are some random thoughts I’ve been having lately that I felt like writing down just because they’d been bouncing around in my head and I felt like letting them out.

Quotes13

Lately I feel like I haven’t been taking good care of myself.

I’ve been so focused on trying to be a light for others that I feel like I’ve neglected being a light for myself.

Woman10 (2)

I want to do good for others. I want to change the world for the better. I want to be the best person I can be.

One of the reasons why is because, according to my parents, I almost died as result of my premature birth. I was born 3 months premature.

I see my life as a miracle, and I don’t want to waste it.

But I’m not perfect. To be blunt: I’ve fucked up.

There are times where I’ve become the kind of person I promised myself I never would be, and that has ended relationships I thought would last forever.

I believe there is a God.

Why?

Because: There’s a feeling within me that there is more to existence than what I can perceive with my senses. I don’t care if I’m seen as “illogical,” and I don’t care if I’m seen as “close-minded,” but: There is nothing anyone can do or say to persuade me that there is not something more to existence.

Image result for tolerance is the virtue of a man without convictions meaning

I believe that God loves me.

But, at the same time, I believe I am undeserving of God’s love. One of the reasons why I believe I am undeserving is: I struggle with pride. And, if I think to myself I don’t deserve ___, than I won’t be as tempted to think Life owes me ___! I want it! I want it! I want it! like a spoiled brat.

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Joffrey Baratheon — Game of Thrones

What currently drives me to write is the fact that I think so much of the art by my fellow Christians is awful. For example:

I hate saying that. After all: We (Christians and non-Christians) are just doing what we can to be the best we can. But I’m not going to be dishonest about my feelings.

I know my own writing isn’t the greatest thing since sliced bread. I know I still have a long way to go before my writing is ready to be seen by the masses. But there has got to be better art made by Christians. And I want to do what I can to make “better art.”

I feel like a lot of my posts come across as pessimistic. And that troubles me. As a Catholic, I know I shouldn’t be like that — I shouldn’t be pessimistic. But if I were to say “I’m not pessimistic” than I would be lying. And I will not lie.

It felt good to let that out.

In conclusion:

The song that does the best job of conveying my current mood:

Thoughts On The Reality Of Evil

Throughout the movie, Louise is subject to visions of Hannah at various stages of maturation ranging from infant to adolescent. Her memories begin as innocent moments playing with her in the back yard or having a chat at the lake but then they take a turn when Hannah develops cancer, gets sick, and eventually dies. All of these wonderful moments she has with her daughter develop Louise’s rationale for deciding to have her at the end of the film. But why? Why bring Hannah into existence knowing full well that she will become the victim of natural evil (i.e. cancer) and suffer and die at a young age?

…there are certain virtues that display themselves only as a specific response to evil; for example, the soldier that jumps on a grenade or the father who drowns in a flood to save his children. While the soldier and father’s death is tragic and a product of the evil that exists, their sacrifice would not exist were it not for the presence of evil acts. In other words, a world with no evil contains less virtue than a world with evil.

…the world He created, from beginning to end, is designed to show us the immeasurable glory that flourishes in the midst of pain and suffering, to show us what true love can do in the face of evil…
~How ‘Arrival’ Affirms a Christian Worldview

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Reading these words last night, I was reminded of Illuvatar’s (God’s) words to the Ainur (angels) after Melkor’s (The Devil’s) failed rebellion in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Silmarillion:

…no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me, nor can any alter the music in my despite. For he that attempteth this shall prove but mine instrument in the devising of things more wonderful, which he himself hath not imagined.

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Having recently re-played episode 1 of Life is Strange that week, I found myself thinking, too, of Syd Matter’s “Obstacles”:

Let’s say sunshine for everyone
But as far as I can remember
We’ve been migratory animals
Living under changing weather

Someday we will foresee obstacles
Through the blizzard, through the blizzard
Today we will sell our uniform
Live together, live together

What do this movie (Arrival), this book (The Silmarillion), and this song (“Obstacles”) have in common?

1) An awareness that our world is not as it should be — for example: an awareness that there is something profoundly wrong with a person dying so young — and 2) A hope that suffering is not in vain.

According to my Catholic faith:

We lived in a world where there was “sunshine for everyone” (Eden).

Adam and Eve10

But, as a result of Adam’s and Eve’s sin…

Eve5

…as far as we can remember we’ve been “migratory animals living under changing weather.” We’ve been cast out of Eden, and have been trying to find our way back ever since.

There will come a day where we will “foresee obstacles through the blizzard” — we will see what it is that prevents us from being our best self — a day where we will cast off our shackles — “sell our uniform” — and “live together.” There will come a day where we will be reunited with the one we love, able to face life with a kind of knowledge that we did not have before. To me, that state of being sounds like Heaven.

Image result for where must we go we who wander this wasteland in search of our better selves

On a related note:

6:02 — 9:11:

My point with posting that video is:

Christopher Hitchens recognized that all is not as it should be — that our world is broken, and must be set right.

He recognized that it’s not enough to throw up one’s hands and say “Nothing really matters!”

He recognized that something did matter.

He recognized that injustice, like filth, needs to be washed away.

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Spirited Away (2001)

The “Let There Be Light” YouTube Page Deletes All Negative Comments

Earlier today I looked up the Let There Be Light (2017) trailer again…

…because I wanted to see what had changed in the days since I’d first found it.

What the view count was.

The Like/Dislike ratio.

The number of comments.

And I found that: All comments criticizing the movie have been deleted.

The comment counter says 63, but as of the writing of this post (March 22nd, 2017) the only comments visible are:

can’t wait to see it.looks wounderful

Congratulations!

We that love you Kevin Sorbo , are far more than they that hate you because of your stand. God bless and Keep you

Love the trailer…brilliant!!…can’t wait to see it…

I’m in. It looks well done, and I know the motives are true and right. Blessings as you go forward!

i love you kevin sorbo

If the goal of Let There Be Light is to awaken people to the love of Christ, it’s off to a great start…

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“Let There Be Light” – A New Low For Christian Movies

A trailer for a new Christian movie was released.

And it is one of the worst things I’ve ever seen.

Let There Be Light (2017):

30 seconds in, and I thought This must be a parody of the trailer. Not the actual trailer.

But I was wrong. This is real.

I don’t know where to start…

The narration is the worst I’ve ever heard.

The dialogue is as subtle as a trainwreck.

The message — atheist converts after a deadly experience — has been done to death. (Pun intended.)

For example: Another Christian movie staring Kevin Sorbo as an atheist who converts: God’s Not Dead (2014):

And before you say “You’re just an atheist liberal,” as the name of my blog implies, I’m a Catholic, and my political views lean towards conservatism. My point is: I am the intended audience for this movie, and I hate it.

I hate it because it’s mediocre.

psalm-19-1

If excellence declares the glory of the Lord, as Psalm 19:1 attests, than Let There Be Light is not an angelic host singing, it is nails on a chalkboard.

Movies like Let There Be Light are why I believe that the world doesn’t need more “Christian movies.”

What the world needs, I believe, is just more stories that portray goodness, truth, or beauty no matter where that goodness, truth, or beauty comes from.

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.”
~ Philippians 4:8

Because of Philippians 4:8, I have found much to think about in, for example, stories about lesbian lovers…

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Life is Strange (2015)

…friendly forest spirits…

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My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

…and killer aliens.

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Prometheus (2012)

Watching the Let There Be Light trailer after experiencing the peace and beauty of Totoro’s realm…

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…I felt like Clark Griswold in Christmas Vacation (1989):

Here was a movie (Let There Be Light) that promised to show me (a Catholic conservative) what I, on paper, should love.

But, as Let There Be Light reminded me:

Appearances can be deceiving.

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I’m Doing Better

If you read my last post I’m Losing Faith In God you know I wasn’t doing well.

Hours have passed. I’ve been to work. I’ve been out for Mexican food with my family. And we watched Star Wars: A New Hope when, upon getting home, we saw that it was on TNT. I haven’t seen that movie in years. I used to watch it all the time with my brothers. So many good memories.

sigh

Now, sitting at my computer, writing this post after everyone has gone to bed, listening to “Obstacles” by Syd Matters…

…I’ve realized something: A reason why I believe there is a god.

Maybe it’s the hopeless romantic in me, but I look at all the beauty in the world (man-made and natural), and I think to myself There has got to be more to existence than what I can perceive with my five senses.

Even if I decided to renounce my Catholic faith, a belief in a god is something I couldn’t shake.

I don’t have time travel powers but, listening to Max’s inner monologue, I think That is so me!

“…there has to be a reason… and I have to find out why.”
~ Max Caulfield

Thinking about Life is Strange, I am reminded of words from I was an atheist until I read The Lord of the Rings:

Why was I so captivated by this story that made fighting evil against all odds so profound? Why did it instill in me a longing for an adventure of the arduous good? And how does the story make sacrifice so appealing? The Lord of the Rings showed me a world where things seemed more “real” than the world I lived in. Not in a literal way, obviously; in a metaphorical, beyond-the-surface way. The beautiful struggle and self-sacrificial glory permeating The Lord of the Rings struck a chord in my soul and filled me with longing that I couldn’t easily dismiss.

Thank you, everyone, for all of your feedback on my previous post. Your Likes and comments.

Because of you I’m doing better.

Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for these desires exists. A baby feels hunger; well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim; well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire; well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.
~ C.S. Lewis